Tactical Analysis: What will Marouane Fellaini bring to United?
It’s been a frustrating summer window for Manchester United fans worldwide. Before Sir Alex Ferguson announced his resignation, he was quoted saying ”Everything is in place for a big signing. I think that the Glazers have been great. Whenever I have asked, they have delivered. If I ask to go for a certain player, I think they will do that,” ”When it’s a top player, it doesn’t matter what position they play in. I will bring them in if they add to the team. Last season we had Hernandez, Welbeck and Rooney and we still went out and bought Robin van Persie.”
Fergie’s quotes brought plenty of reasons for optimism to the United fans who were expecting a marquee signing, another Van Persie-like signing. After months of speculation and rumours linking the likes of Ronaldo, Fabregas, Modric, Schweinsteiger, De Rossi, Bale, Garay, Strootman, Thiago and many many more stars to Old Trafford, Manchester United only managed to tie up the signings of 2 players. Varela, an unproven youngster and Everton’s Fellaini in the final minutes of the deadline day.
Manchester United confirmed the signing of the Everton midfielder on a long-term deal for a fee of £27.5 million, where he is reunited with former manager David Moyes. At hindsight the Fellaini deal looks a bad deal for United. Everton disclosing the Fellaini fee to the media, with Manchester United shyly deciding to leave it undisclosed says it all really. 2 months ago, the Red devils could have signed Fellaini for £23M but failure to match his release clause before July 31st meant they had to meet Everton’s demands.
Putting it into perspective, Fellaini is a massive coup for United, no question. For United to sign a player who featured in most people’s preferred EPL team of the year is fantastic. Also, with Darren Fletcher’s condition and Scholes’ retirement, Tom Cleverley, Anderson and Michael Carrick remain United’s only central midfielders, the first two of which are massively inconsistent. With the signing of Marouane Fellaini, David Moyes has added a quality central midfielder to partner Carrick, also adding more depth to the position.
The signing of Fellaini means for the first time since Roy Keane and injury blighted Owen Hargreaves departed, Manchester United have a tough man in midfield, who will scrap for any 50-50s and make necessary tackles. Using statistics, Fellaini had more tackles than all of Manchester United’s midfielders, even after playing in the advanced #10 role. The Belgian managed 60 tackles last season, his nearest United rival was Michael Carrick on 58. Many times last season, United’s midfield was split open with ease, with Fellaini coming in that is most likely to change.
Aerially, no one in the Premiership comes close to Fellaini. The 6 ft 4 midfielder won 41% more headers than any other midfielder in the Premier League. He also won more headers than any Man United player. Fellaini scored 5 headed goals last season, the same amount as Manchester United’s forwards; Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck combined. He has won more than 2/3 of his aerial duels so far this season.
His versatility also adds that extra bit of enthusiasm to the deal. Fellaini can play a number of roles – the holding midfield, central midfield and attacking midfield roles have all been executed wonderfully by the Belgian beast during his time at Everton.
So far this season, Fellaini has completed 193 passes, 89% of his passes. By comparison, Fellaini’s passing stats this season have been better than Michael Carrick’s. Only Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, Chelsea’s Ramires and Swansea City’s midfielder Canas have completed more passes than the Belgian. In 31 Premier League appearances last season, Fellaini scored 11 goals, two of which were game-winners, had six assists and managed an impressive 60 percent of his shots on target.
Although Ander Herrera was Manchester United’s first-choice, the signing of Fellaini is a stroke of genius by David Moyes, and one can only envisage him being a hit at Old Trafford. Oh and expect a few wigs around Old Trafford this season.
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